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Broadside ballad entitled 'William Burke's Murders in the Westport'




Ye people of Scotland give ear to this sad tale,
It will make your hearts burn, and your faces turn pale,
Concerning a deed which has lately been done,
The like was ne'er heard of since the world begun.

In Edinburgh there lived a man and his wife,
In horrid transactions they passed their life,
Its deed after deed they did quickly pursue,
No terror had they, nor a thought for to rue.

The first charge against them was of a dark liue,
But be it true or be it false hereafter will shew,
Mary Paterson from Glasgow, her life it was ta'en,
Without any cause but for real greed of gain

The next it this black list of crime, we hear,
Was a man of weak parts to humanity dear,
His name was James Wilson?how awful the thought,
It is said they did murder, though he sore with them fought.

A third uow appears in this blood stained scroll,
To wound every feeling and harrow the soul,
A poor widow woman in search of her son,
Is waylaid, invited, and then quite undone.

To the house of this blood-hound, she's asked for to rest.   
Then they did treat her with drink not the best,
And while in this state a sham scuffle began,
Between Burke the murderer, and one of his clan.

In this unmanly fight the woman she rose,
As well as she could, to stop, the blows,
And while in this act she was knock'd to the floor,
And the women, to screen, then ran to the door,

The base hearted coward, whose name is called Hare,
As soon as he did it, Burke managed the snare,
He fell on her body, and stiffled her so,
That death it did follow, and forc'd blood it did flow.

This scene being over, she quickly is laid,
And wrapped in straw is thrown under the
And while is this slate, the liquor goes round,
And nothing but mirth and full glasses abound.

Sometime after this her body is sent,
In charge of a porter by the parties consent,
To the house of a Doctor who they knew would be found,
And for this horrid action received ten pound.

But lo ! while dividing their blood gotten gear,
What a sight does appal them ! the Policemen appear,
Each countenance changes, when them they behold,
The hearts that were glad are now cheerless and cold.

To the bar o justice they quickly are led,
To answer for innocent blood they had shed,
The man was convicted, the woman got clear,
But a troubled conscience she surely must bear.

A crime, such as this, was ne'er heard in our land,
It makes the heart shudder, the hair straight to stand,
To think that such murders for sake of a fee,
By a GANG of MONSTERS committed should be.

The following case excited considerable interest as
well as amusement :? A man and his wife, apparently
natives of the Highlands , charged a respectable look-
ing young man, with having,, on the preceding even-
ing, attempted to carry off their child, a girl of three
or four years old, from the stair in which they lived,
for the purposes (as they said he looked like a young
doctor) of dissection . The young man stated that he
was coming down the stair, and stumbling upon a
child in the dark, he lifted it up from fear of hurting
it. The girl, however, into whom a salutary fear of
the doctor, seemed, to have been carefully instilled,
screamed out in such a manner, as to bring a crowd
instantly around them; and the father and mother in-
sisted on fixing the present absurd charge upon him,
the defender, who stated, moreover, that he was a
painter, and not a surgeon. The Magistrate, of course,
dismissed the case; but the poor people retired in the
firm persuasion that the defender, if he was not a
doctor himself, had certainly intended to deliver the
child into their hands.         

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Probable date published: 1829   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.6(035)
Broadside ballad entitled 'William Burke's Murders in the Westport'
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